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In a move described by the Living Wage Foundation as “historic”, Ikea have become the first national retailer to sign up to the scheme.

Foundation Director Rhys Moore said:

“We are delighted with the news that Ikea… has announced its intention to accredit as a Living Wage employer. This is a huge step in the life of the Living Wage movement and sends out a clear marker to the sector that businesses that can, should pay the voluntary rate, which is calculated according to the cost of living.

The news is particularly timely given the recent announcement by the Chancellor who described the new, higher rate of the statutory minimum wage for over 25’s as a ‘national living wage’. Leading businesses, and increasingly consumers, recognise the need for a distinction between the rates. The Living Wage is a mark of responsible businesses, with accredited Living Wage companies choosing to go above and beyond the legal minimum.”

The move may have breathed new momentum into the life of the Living Wage campaign which in recent weeks has seen the Tory Chancellor somewhat cynically appropriate their signature phrase “living wage” to describe his budgetary minimum wage rise.

The new “living” minimum wage proposed by the Chancellor falls short of the living wage proposed by the Foundation.

Having signaled their intention to pay the living wage, Ikea will now seek accreditation from the Foundation. In order to gain accreditation, an employer must not only pay all the staff it directly employs the living wage, but also all staff working for companies who carry out work sub-contracted to it.

The requirement for sub-contracted staff to also receive the minimum wage was the major obstacle to Glasgow football club Celtic gaining accreditation from the Foundation. Despite a commitment from Celtic to pay its staff the living wage, a lot of the matchday staff will be sub-contracted to the club from companies such as Sodexo and G4S and agreement was not forthcoming from those companies.

If Ikea are successful in gaining accreditation, they will join the likes of Aviva, KPMG, Nestlé and Linklaters.

The announcement by Ikea also covers all staff, as opposed to the Chancellor’s pretend living wage, which is only applicable to employees over the age of 25.

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